By the 1920’s, Berlin had become known as a homosexual eden, where gay men and lesbians lived relatively open lives amidst an exciting subculture of artists and intellectuals. With the coming to power of the Nazis, all this changed. Between 1933 and 1945 100,000 men were arrested for homosexuality under Paragraph 175, the sodomy provision of the German penal code dating back to 1871. Some were imprisoned, others were sent to concentration camps. Of the latter, only about 4,000 survived. Today, fewer than ten of these men are known to be living. Five of them have now come forward to tell their stories for the first time in this powerful new film. The Nazi persecution of homosexuals may be the last untold story of the Third Reich. Paragraph 175 fills a crucial gap in the historical record, and reveals the lasting consequences of this hidden chapter of 20th century history, as told through personal stories of men and women who lived through it: the half Jewish gay resistance fighter who spent the war helping refugees in Berlin; the Jewish lesbian who escaped to England with the help of a woman she had a crush on; the German Christian photographer who was arrested and imprisoned for homosexuality, then joined the army on his release because he “wanted to be with men”; the French Alsatian teenager who watched as his lover was tortured and murdered in the camps. These are stories of survivors — sometimes bitter, but just as often filled with irony and humor; tortured by their memories, yet infused with a powerful will to endure. Their moving testimonies, rendered with evocative images of their lives and times, tell a haunting, compelling story of human resilience in the face of unspeakable cruelty. Intimate in its portrayals, sweeping in its implications, Paragraph 175 raises provocative questions about memory, history, and identity. —IMDb
Rob Epstein, also credited as Robert P. Epstein, is a director, producer, writer and editor. Epstein has won two Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature for the films The Times of Harvey Milk and Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt.
In making the transition to scripted narrative, Epstein wrote, directed, and produced (with Jeffrey Friedman), the feature film Howl, starring James Franco as young Allen Ginsberg. Howl was the opening night film of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and in the official competition at the Berlin International Film Festival. Howl won the 2010 Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of Review.
Epstein is the recipient of numerous other awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the International Documentary Association’s Pioneer Award for his contributions to the field, as well as the Outfest Achievement Award and the Frameline Film Festival Award.
As a child, Rob Epstein had a painting studio set up in the basement… read more
Jeffrey Friedman (born in Los Angeles, California on 24 August 1951) is a non-fiction filmmaker, director, producer, writer and editor. Friedman has won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for the film Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt.
Friedman has been making films with Rob Epstein since 1987, when they formed the production company Telling Pictures in San Francisco, California. Together they wrote, directed, and co-produced HOWL (2010), starring James Franco as the poet Allen Ginsberg, featuring Jon Hamm, David Strathairn, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeff Daniels, Alessandro Nivola, Treat Williams, and Bob Balaban. HOWL, which was executive produced by Gus Van Sant, premiered on opening night at the Sundance Film Festival, followed by the Berlin and London International Film Festivals. It was released theatrically and on home video by Oscilloscope Laboratories in the U.S. and internationally by The Match Factory. HOWL received a 2011 Freedom of Expression Award from… read more